Women on the Frontlines

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National Colors of the 41st O.V.I. National colors of the 41st Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Text on flag reads: Shioh Stone R[i]v[er] 41st Regt. Ohio Item Link

Mary Smith of the 41st Ohio Volunteer Infantry, also known as the "McClellan Zouaves," joined the ranks of men to avenge her brother's death. Mary's only brother died while fighting at Bull Run. She was discovered while at Camp Wood, Cleveland due to her "female mannerisms." She gave an "unmistakable twist to the dishcloth in wringing it out that no masculine [sic] could ever successfully counterfeit (1)."

Another example of an Ohio woman seeking to avenge her family was a Cleveland woman who lost her three brothers to the war. Realizing she was too well known in the Cleveland area she went to the Detroit, Michigan, area to enlist. Cutting her hair and donning men's clothing, she walked the streets of Detroit offering herself as a "substitute" to enlisted men. She went to four different recruiting offices, completed the paperwork but was turned away for being too short. Her last attempt at enlisting, and vengeance, was volunteering with the Provost Marshal. She was discovered during the examination process and was sternly reprimanded for her conduct (2).

  1. Hall, Richard. Patriots in Disguise: Women Warriors of the Civil War. Paragon Press, New York: New York, 1993.p. 157
  2. Voge, Cynthia. Civil War Women: They Made A Difference. Cam-Tech Publishing, Fletcher: Ohio, 2007. p. 70